User-centric EA seeks to develop an organization both through integration and differentiation.
In Lawrence and Lorsch's groundbreaking work "Organization and Environment," the authors explore the implications of integration and differentiation in the enterprise.
- Integration is the "state of collaboration that exists among departments that are required to achieve unity of effort."
- Differentiation is when different departments have different structures and orientations (such as short-term versus long-term outlooks or relationship versus task foci).
Both integration and differentiation can be useful in different environments. For example, in stable environments an integrated organization tends to function best, while in an uncertain or turbulent environment, an organization that is differentiated internally has greater prospects for success. A key finding of Lawrence and Lorsch’s research was that the most successful organizations simultaneously achieved high levels of both.
Contingency theory states that there is not one best way for an organization in terms of structure or leadership style. Rather, according to contingency theory, it is best to vary the organizational structure and management style depending on the environment in which the enterprise operates.
EA should plan for organizations in various environments. No one plan can be successful in every type of environment. Therefore, EA should use contingency theory to develop options or alternate paths for an organization to take depending on the landscape it finds itself in. Refining the degree of differentiation and integration of departments in the enterprise is one way to navigate in different operational environments. Centralizing or decentralizing decision making, situational leadership, and altering task versus people orientation are just some of the other factors that can be varied to adjust to changing environments. The key is to keep the options open, to be nimble and agile with planning, so that the enterprise is not hamstrung by ill-conceived plans that were developed for a future state that may not exist.